Editor’s Note: The article has been changed to reflect the addition of Riley Weselowski to the 2019-20 roster.
WICHITA, Kan. – The Wichita Thunder opened up their first training camp under head coach Bruce Ramsay this morning at the Wichita Ice Center. In a recent interview, Ramsay said the “no vacancy” sign was lit for camp, with 30 players taking part, the most allowed by the ECHL.
This year’s camp is the largest since the Thunder moved to the ECHL and features a wealth of rookies, as well as a mix of returning players and veterans. This season’s camp roster features three veterans, 11 tweeners, and 16 rookies.
Just before camp opened, the Bakersfield Condors announced three players were being assigned/loaned to the Thunder; Ostap Safin, Steven Iacobellis, and Beau Starrett. Additionally, players signed by Ramsay; Fabrizio Ricci, Luke Shiplo, and Brendan De Jong were among the final cuts to the Condors’ 2019-20 roster.
One of the final forwards signed by Ramsay was Kris Kontos, who comes back to North America after a successful first season with Gap in France. There, he posted 38 pts in 44 regular-season games and added six more points in ten playoff games. Before going to France, Kontos played four years at St. Francis Xavier University, where he put up 72 points (16G, 56A) in 90 games.
The defensive corps added a play-making, steady defenseman on Tuesday, with the signing of Riley Weselowski. The 34-year-old blueliner is playing in his 11th season and first for the Thunder, but he’s no stranger to INTRUST Bank Arena. He turned pro in 2008-09, signing with the Idaho Steelheads. In 2009-10, he began the season with the Steelheads before finishing the year in the Central Hockey League with Rapid City. He spent nine seasons in the Black Hills while also making stops in Cincinnati and Florida. Weselowski brings a wealth of experience to the Thunder blueline, having played in 654 games as a pro, notching 223 points (44g, 179a) and compiling a +39.
Look for additional movement on both the affiliation and player signing front in the coming days.
Rounding out this year’s camp roster are four players looking on tryouts, including one that may be familiar to Thunder fans from last season; Eric Freschi. The 26-year-old forward is looking to make an ECHL roster after a rocky 2018-19 season that saw him bounce around with four different clubs. All told in 40 games, he had 16 points (4G, 12A). Joining Freschi on tryouts are Nick Miglio, Taylor Makin, and defenseman Jacob Boll.
Here is the rest of the 30-man training camp roster:
Forwards (19): Joe Widmar, Michael Ederer, Spencer Dorowicz, Matthew Whittaker, Fabrizio Ricci, Peter Crinella, Lane Bauer, Nick Farmer, Stefan Fournier (V), Michael Turner, Chris Crane (V), Jordan Sims, Kris Kontos, Steven Iacobellis, Beau Starrett, Ostap Safin, Nick Miglio (PTO), Eric Freschi (PTO), Taylor Makin (TO)
Defensemen (10): Devin Campbell, Zane Schartz, Luke Shiplo, Sean Allen, Brendan Smith, Garrett Schmitz, Derian Hamilton, Brendan De Jong, Patrik Parkkonen, Jacob Boll (TO), Riley Weselowski (V)
Goaltender (1): Mitch Gillam
Training camp continues this week at the Wichita Ice Center. Here is the schedule:
Wednesday, October 2 10 a.m. – 11 a.m., 2 p.m. Intrasquad Scrimmage
Thursday, October 3 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Friday, October 4 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
The Thunder and Oilers will play their lone exhibition game on Saturday night at 7 pm, at the Wichita Ice Center.
Camp next week looks like this:
Monday, October 7 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, October 8 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, October 9 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, October 10 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
As camp evolves, there are three storylines worth watching:
- With six centers on the training camp roster; Jordan Sims, Steven Iacobellis, Lane Bauer, Kris Kontos, Peter Crinella and Joe Widmar, who will emerge from the group to complete the opening night lineup?
- Eleven defensemen are in camp with the team, outside Weselowski, who has the poise to earn a spot on the opening-night roster? And, what role does Bakersfield have in those decisions?
- In a roster full of youth, what will Ramsay be looking for that separates rookies from a more seasoned player to earn a roster slot?
We’ll be following all of those storylines and so much more as we ramp up to the season opener for the Thunder, which is on Friday, October 11 against the Indy Fuel at INTRUST Bank Arena.